How To Successfully Kick Off Your Digital Transformation

Chart Your Course

Are your competitors carving out new market niches and starting to leave you in the dust, and you don’t know what to do? You realize your company needs to change so that it delivers better value to your customers and increases your bottom line. But how does your company make the change?  

The problem is 70% of transformation efforts fail. Reasons cited by industry experts include lack of specific goals and no disciplined process to achieve them, confusing terminology, lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, low or nonexistent cross-functional collaboration, and a lack of accountability. That is not the journey you want to take.

The successful transformation journey of the 30 percent had clearly defined goals, employee engagement, and management support. They started well, and they managed well. And, like the Starship Enterprise, if you want to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life, and boldly go where no one has gone before, then you must start well and then manage the transformation well.

Before we start, you must know that Digital Transformation is NOT a project. What? That’s right! It is not a project that begins and ends. It’s a mindset. You are not a digital company because you went remote, started using Zoom, Slack, and adopted the cloud. Once you rethink what’s possible, then you can define a goal, strategize your transformation, and follow Mel Robbins’ advice, “Start before you’re ready. Don’t prepare, begin.” Let’s Go!

The Beginning

A successful journey has a beginning. Where do you start? You start with the first three phases of your transformation program. 

  • Phase One: Program Introduction – ensure everyone is going in the same direction
  • Phase Two: Assembling the Core Team – put together a high-performance team
  • Phase Three: Discovery – analysis of market data to begin developing the digital strategy

Program Introduction

Your Goal:  The goal of this phase is vitally important to the journey so your team does not get lost. Your itinerary begins with getting all stakeholders on the same page. A shared vision requires all program participants to understand the critical keys to success. The keys to success are the objectives listed below. Let’s go!

Your Objectives:  You establish the overall vision, framework, responsibilities, and success measures that chart the course of the program. The factors that accomplish this require you to:

  • Build a shared vision/language to provide a common framework and approach. A shared vision and common language that everyone agrees to and supports is critical to program success. You must provide this information and insight to all the key stakeholders, your executive staff, digital transformation leadership team, customers, and partners.
  • Identify the strategic building blocks and how to use them to guide their efforts. The strategic building blocks include:
    • Business and technical drivers – The Internet is a platform driving global innovation and engagement. Transformative technologies (things that can change how we think and act) tap into that platform and serve as powerful individual change agents. Collectively, these change agents create a powerful force in the marketplace and people’s lives.
    • Digital disruption – Digital disruption occurs when market forces introduce products, services, or business models that enable customers to achieve their outcomes better, faster, and smarter than existing products and services. In many cases, they also provide a far better customer experience.
    • Visionary customers – Visionary customers are out on the edge of technology and business trends. They are trying to figure out where new opportunities and markets are forming. They are not satisfied with the status quo. They want to boldly go where no one has gone before.
    • Digital ecosystems – A digital ecosystem is a distributed, adaptive, open socio-technical system with characteristics similar to a natural ecosystem. For example, the smartphone is one of the key elements of the digital ecosystem within our homes. Many of us control our HVAC system, lights in our house, security system, and manage our entertainment system using our smartphones.
  • Teach the program phases and their importance to provide a framework and direction for transformation. Everyone involved needs to understand with some depth each of the eight program phases, the activities and deliverables within each phase, what puts the program at risk, and what it takes to succeed. The program phases include Program Introduction, Assembling the Core Team, Discovery, Vision & Strategy, Identification, Engagement, Development, and Transformation.
  • Outline the roles and responsibilities in each of the program phases and define how success will be measured as the program unfolds.

In summary, Phase One ensures everyone is going in the same direction. Then, in Phase Two, you put the leadership team together. 

Assemble the Core Team

Your Goals:  In this phase, you establish and empower a leadership team with the resources needed to drive your digital strategy and transformation into the future. You cannot do this alone. Let’s Go!!

Your Objectives:  Identify, develop, and empower the core leadership team to drive digital strategy and transformation efforts. They, in turn, will build a strong middle and front-line layer of digital leaders that will help your company’s efforts be successful. Tom Peters said, “Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.” The people, processes, and mindset that emerge during the transformation process will become the digital DNA that will lead your company into the future.

  •  Identify team leaders for each key area of your digital strategy to drive the transformation vision, strategy, and program. You must select people who have the vision, passion, expertise, credibility, creativity, and leadership skills needed for the journey ahead. Team leaders will be essential in keeping processes and objectives on track, building team confidence, and to act as a bridge to other program teams.
  • Begin team and team leader training (together) steeped in digital management practices. These practices would include the agile methodology, which focuses on solutions designed to deliver products and services quickly through collaboration and teamwork. Team training will equip them with the skills needed to achieve team goals.
  • Immerse teams in digital culture/technology and influence them in the right direction. Team immersion in the key technologies and culture driving change is vital to you, your company, and your customers. 
  • Assess current resources/activities to determine available resources and to obtain information for the Discovery phase. Providing an agile coach to help pull together an initial assessment in this team-building phase would be beneficial.
  • Obtain executive sponsorship across the organization. Top-line backing will establish the transformation program as a real priority among all organizational stakeholders.

Now, with everyone going in the same direction, and the leadership team identified, you will assess your company’s current position and begin building a strategy for the transformation journey. 


Your Goal:  Your transformation team identifies and profiles opportunities and requirements. Let’s Go!!!

Your Objectives: Develop an initial assessment of the company’s opportunities, strengths, priorities, and establish an objective basis for strategy. Daniel J. Boorstin, an American historian, said in 1984, “The greatest obstacle to discovery isn’t ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge.” Avoid validating what you already believe. Your objective is to discover what you do not know. You don’t know what you don’t know.

  • Identify, reach out, and engage your visionary customers to learn their digital transformation strategies. Develop profiles and assess which customers will make the best strategic partners.
  • Identify the technologies, digital ecosystems, trends, and the key players shaping your industry, your customers, and your customer’s customers and develop profiles.
  • Combine and assess the insight learned from these profiles from your visionary customers and the forces shaping your industry. This process creates an initial assessment of market opportunities, strengths, and priorities, critical to forming a strategy.
  • A preliminary S-curve analysis will look at the linear progress of how in-coming technology will impact the relevance and value and competitiveness of your existing products.
  • Analysis and assessments will be broken down to the departmental level and provided to stakeholder groups. Your team and the stakeholder groups will conduct SWOT analyses. Out of this, the team and stakeholders will develop strategic and transformational priorities. These are the priorities that accelerate your growth and increase the value delivered to your customers in the digital future.

Key Takeaways

The program introduction phase will ensure everyone is going in the right direction. Assembling your core team will provide the leaders who will define and execute a successful digital strategy and transformation program. But, more importantly, this phase will produce a strong middle and front-line layer of digital leaders who will help your company be successful. In discovery, the assessments of your company’s opportunities, strengths, and priorities will allow you to objectively identify and take advantage of the opportunities that accelerate your growth and increase the value you deliver to your customers. 

Let’s Go!!!!

This Blog Is Part TWO Of A Series!

How To Become A Digital Transformation Success Story [Part One]

Set Your Vision For Digital Transformation [Part Three]

Ready, Set, How To Digitally Transform [Part Four]

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